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I Wanted to Hug The Agent at Gate F7b

Mmmmm, the taste of one’s own dog food.

creative commons licensed ( BY-SA ) flickr photo shared by Jordan Batch

I saw in the twitters that Alec Couros got stranded at Chicago O’Hare airport on Monday. Having spent a #NightAtORD last year

creative commons licensed ( BY-SA ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

I suggested somewhat of an attitude adjustment, out comes the sage-ish wisdom

Not seeing the obvious irony, on Tuesday I got notified before I left home, that my flight from Phoenix to Winnipeg was delayed an hour for some sort of crew change. Given that I had a 4 hour layover at O’Hare, I was glad to have an extra hour to get organized in the morning.


What was I thinking?

I always get to the airport super early, I had time for a lunch and a beer, and made my way to Gate 5 for now a 1pm departure. An announcement came on that there was a ground stop due to a possible fire in the tower at O’Hare.

Not cool, but I had still a 3 hour cushion.

We were call to get ready to board at 11:45. United has this boarded procedure they might have borrowd from Southwest, but missed a few steps. They have signs for all boarding groups, and the ask everyone to get in their line. Given the limited space in Terminal 2, the lines spill over and around the seats, and it is hard to know from the back which line is going where.

We stood there for 15 minutes, but started marching on board about 1:15.

And we waited. With nary a pilot announcement. People kept boarding the plan, carrying way too much luggage for almost no space. After another 45 minutes the pilot finally spoke, and filled us in on the fire situation. He thought we would be going in 20 minutes (it was line another 40).

But we lifted off.

I was sitting next to a confused man who managed to communicate he spoke Portuguese and some Spanish. I spoke none.

I was able to explain what I was hearing; and I handed the phone to him,and he said his plane was scheduled to leave Chicago after 9:00pm. It was now 2:50pm. No status from anywhere, but I got a text message fmor United saying the flight would leave Phoenix at 3:00PM and get to Chicago by 9:00pm.

The problem with that was my flight left Chicago at 8:20pm.

But we did leave Phoenix. Finally. While enroute, the pilot did announce he was cleared for a route that would save us 45 minutes. Small whuppps.

And we did land in Chicago around 8:00pm, meaning I was close by not really, since the fat plane from Phoenix, a 767, landed at Gate C23, and my flight out was something like FB7, literally about 2 miles away.

I ventured to the customer service center in Terminal C, where the line looked long and sad. But they had kiosks, and according to it when I checked, I was still booked on my original flight. I figured I might as well go to the gate and check, as I had been getting various notifications all day- weather delay, crew delay, cancelled, rescheduled. I rushed through the tub back to B terminal, walked fast all the way to E, then F (the customer service line there for United stretched all the way from the 2 concourse junction all the way to the end of E it seemed.

No one was there at Gate F7b, the door was closed. The status screen said it was delayed until 9:05, and it was 9:00pm. I went to another gate with an agent, and the guy started checking, but he said he was not sure if it had left. We walked towards 7b, but there was some altercation at 7c; it looked like some customer tried to sneak down the gangway, and the United dude lost interest in me.

And then it happened. The door for Gate F7b opened and out stepped an agent. I asked if the plane to Winnipeg was there, and she said, “Yes, are you on this flight?” I almost burst into tears of joy. She opened the gate and got me on my flight. I made it by the skin of the hair of the skin of my teeth.

As I walked in, I looked into her eyes and said, “I love you, Gate Agent F7b”. Laughter.

This stuff happens. During the delays in from Phoenix, I was feeling pretty PO-ed at the lack of info. I heard another customer ranting at the attendants, and it sounded awful. It’s not their fault. One told me that the night before, when they had flood delays, they could not even get to their hotel until 5am, and United would not pay for it; the pilot had paid for rooms for his crew.

And in the bigger scheme of things, the world was not crushing to an end if I missed my flight. Heck, I could have visited friends in Chicago. And I was not due to speak the conference in Manitoba until Thursday.

So letting that stress and anger drain away was relieving, and it felt better to just appreciate the irony and the miracle of even making it to that plane.

It was over.


Wow, was the immigration agent at the Canadian customs surly. I told her I was tired from the ordeal, but that did not help when I could not recall the name of the hotel I was staying at or could not remember the exact date of my last visit to Canada. I got sent to the “office” for more questions. Eventually, it was sorted; having my mug on the conference site helped. I did tell this officer the name of the conference I was attending. I thought he was looking at my immigration data, but he smiled and said, “CogDogBlog- that’s neat”.

And with that, I arrived in Canada, meat Andy Mckiel, and headed to Tim Hortons.

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An early 90s builder of web stuff and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person. And he is 100% into the Fediverse (or tells himself so) Tooting as


  1. Well, that is good that you got to some donuts at the end of it all. But, remember when I said about me making travel arrangements for you and having WiFi in your box. So maybe my way works better. But it was a nice thing for that Agent 7bf to be a True Friend and you got a hug.

    Well, bye!

  2. What an ordeal through the US airspace. I admire your stamina and positive attitude.

    Canadian customs, mmm, they can be rough. They feel like a pop quiz – no, exam – from Kafka.

  3. I feel your pain – tornado in Miami= 4 hr delay, missed connection and train. We made it and drinking enough wine to cancel out he experience!

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